Chapel services rely on a dedicated team of student leaders—choristers, acolytes, readers, ushers, and sacristans. The Chaplain and the Headmaster share sacramental responsibilities. Faculty members, students, and guests, frequently speak in Chapel, making it a place where the School community comes together to learn and grow.
- Solemn Mass
- Morning Chapel
- Wednesday Chapel
- Evening Chapel
- Holy Week & Holiday Masses
- Lessons and Carols
Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, the student body and faculty gather for about 15 minutes. This simple service consists of a hymn, a short reading, a talk or homily, and daily prayers. Talks are given either by the clergy (Fr. Keyes or Fr. Dunnan), other faculty members, guest speakers, or 6th formers reading a “senior essay.” Friday mornings, with the exception of periodic form meetings, we have either Contemplative Chapel — featuring student musical performances — or Holy Hit Parade, a hymn-sing.
Most Wednesdays the School gathers for Solemn Mass (a.k.a. “long chapel”), a Rite 2 Eucharist following the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer (1979) with full choir and incense. In addition to the choir, many students serve as acolytes, readers, sacristans, and ushers. Lay faculty members serve as chalice bearers.
Typically the Chapel is closed outside of term, but an exception is always made for Christmas Eve, when local students, families, and alumni often return for the festive Midnight Mass (actually at 10 p.m.), the first Eucharist of Christmas. Sometimes current students and alumni form a pickup choir, and often former acolytes and sacristans step up to serve.
Holy Week is always observed in the School calendar. Occasionally Spring Break cuts into Palm Sunday, but school is always in session for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.
The service of Lessons and Carols is based on one first used at Truro Cathedral in 1880 at the instruction of Bishop Edward Benson (later Archbishop of Canterbury). The service was later adapted for use at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge University, in 1918 by the Dean, the Very Reverend Eric Milner-White, who also wrote the Bidding Prayer. At Saint James, students, faculty, staff, and parents read the lessons, while the Chapel Choir responds with a beautiful series of carols and anthems.
The readings trace the history of God’s redeeming acts: from humanity’s fall from grace, through the expectant watchfulness of the people of Israel, and finally to the birth of the Messiah. The readings reach their dramatic conclusion with the solemn proclamation of the God who became flesh and who dwells with his people.
Lessons and Carols is a venerable and popular tradition of Saint James School, usually celebrated on the third or fourth weekend of Advent. The Chapel is adorned for Christmas, and many families, alumni, and guests visit campus for this candlelit entrance into the Christmas season.
Each school day begins in the Chapel. Although our community includes a variety of religious faiths, we worship in the Anglo-Catholic tradition of the Episcopal Church.